Events

Actually Cool Things to Do in New York This Holiday Season

Updated On 12/19/2017 at 06:37PM EST Updated On 12/19/2017 at 06:37PM EST
New York Holiday Season
Central Park Ice Skating | Stuart Monk/Shutterstock
Friday - Sunday
Dec 1-24
Various locations
Nothing says Christmas like swimming through crowds for artisanal trinkets you never knew you wanted so bad. And while this may not sound like your ideal afternoon, the pop-up holiday markets at Union Square, Columbus Circle, and Bryant Park have a certain pine-scented charm all of their own. Beneath the twinkling string lights, dozens of independent stalls sell everything you can think of and many things you can’t; we’re talking handcrafted jewelry, vintage threads, gourmet hot chocolate and much, much more. Toss back a few cups of belly-warming mulled wine as well, and you’ll forget about the crowd completely.
Cost: Free to look; everything else will cost you
Friday - Monday
Dec 1-Jan 15
New York Botanical Garden
Tower over a scale-model of Midtown Manhattan while you watch locomotives zoom along the half-mile holiday train track in the New York Botanical Garden. Stationed beneath the warm glow of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory, the whole thing will run circles around your former (or current) Tonka train set.
Cost: Tickets start at $23
Friday - Wednesday
Dec 1-Jan 25

Ice skate somewhere that's not Rockefeller Center

Ice skate somewhere that's not Rockefeller Center

Prospect Park, Bryant Park, and Central Park
OK, it’s hard to argue that ice skating at Rockefeller Center doesn’t effuse holiday cheer, what with the 90-foot Christmas tree looming over you. But here’s the thing: The rink is quite small, and you’ll probably end up spending most of your time shivering in the cold, waiting to get on the ice, and weighing whether to trip tourists who cross you. Instead, head to one of the city’s other rinks, such as Prospect Park’s LeFrak Center at Lakeside, The Rink at Bryant Park, or Wollman Rink in Central Park.
Cost: Admission is between $0 and $9, plus skate rentals
Friday - Sunday
Dec 1-31
Various locations
Even with your holiday bonus, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to afford much from Tiffany’s and Bergdorf Goodman. Still, it can’t hurt to look. Ogle the window displays in shops like Lord & Taylor, Barneys, Saks, and Bloomingdale’s, where motorized mannequins dance, paper snow falls, and $8,000 fur coats are draped with tinsel.
Cost: Free
Dyker Heights
Dyker Heights | Marco Bicci/Shutterstock.com
Friday - Sunday
Dec 15-31
Dyker Heights
If you think Rockefeller Center has the city’s most dazzling display of Christmas lights, you have certainly never been to -- or within a 3-mile radius of -- Dyker Heights. When it comes to decorations, the people of this south Brooklyn neighborhood know no limits, unless there’s a power cut. We’re talking houses topped with light-up Santas and giant snowflakes, Nutcracker soldiers on guard in the gardens, and loudspeakers blasting out Christmas carols.
Cost: Free
Tuesday
Dec 19

Overshare at your office holiday party

Overshare at your office holiday party

Various locations
Embrace the inevitable post-party regret and lean into some serious over-sharing with your co-workers, while inappropriately intoxicated at this year’s office holiday.
Cost: A small portion of your dignity
Wednesday
Dec 20
Williamsburg
You may have successfully passed off a Trader Joe’s pie as homemade last year, but don’t make it a habit. Instead, you could learn how to actually bake, from the best of the best at Brooklyn Kitchen. Afterwards, it’s polite to tell your Aunt Laurie to watch out, because there’s a new kid in the dessert game this year.
Cost: Classes are $95 with all tools and ingredients included (and you get to take home your creations)
Friday
Dec 22
Midtown
It’s not really the holiday season until you’ve found an occasion to rock your most hideous Christmas sweater in public -- and this Midtown party in the DanceSport ballroom is the perfect place to do it. Gather with friends in their respective pieces of tasteless knitwear, and celebrate turtleneck season in style.
Cost: Admission is $25
Saturday
Dec 23
Williamsburg
Relish the Christmas spirit with a screening of a Christmas classic at Williamsburg’s Nitehawk Cinema, to be paired with an array of cocktails delivered straight to your seat.
Cost: $12, plus drinks
Saturday - Sunday
Dec 23-31
Midtown
We don’t blame you for being a recluse at this time of year -- it’s not exactly easy to motivate when the air outside hurts your face. And while drinking in your pajamas is always a valid winter activity, it's a whole lot more fun to put some clothes on and get toasty in a heated igloo instead. From the deck at 230 Fifth, where a series of these very igloos are stationed, you’ll get the skyline views you’ve been craving since rooftop-drinking-season came to an end, without losing feeling in your fingertips.
Cost: Tickets are $20
Sunday
Dec 24
Upper East Side
Christmas season and cavities go hand in hand, and there is no better place to celebrate the demise of your dental hygiene than a gallery of candy art. Hit the massive Dylan’s Candy Bar flagship on the Upper East Side, where the basement has been temporarily converted into a museum of celebrity portraits, created entirely out of candy. Picture Whoopi Goldberg, Martha Stewart, and Jessica Alba, all made entirely of M&Ms, gummy worms, and mini jawbreakers.
Cost: Free to visit, but keep in mind the price of dental care while making your candy purchases
Sunday
Dec 24
East Village
Schmooze your way into the kvetching heart of a Jewish singleton at the annual MatzoBall, held at Capitale, which brings a whole lot more to a Jewish Christmas Eve than feasting on dumplings and chow-fun in Chinatown. Consider this a golden opportunity to dance, flirt, and (hopefully) please your bubbe with news that you’ll be settling down with a member of the tribe after all.
Cost: General admission is $50; VIP tickets are $75
Times Square
Times Square | Songquan Deng/Shutterstock.cin
Thursday
Dec 28
Times Square
It’s only natural that you’d like to block 2017 out of your conscience. We don’t blame you. So head to Times Square and celebrate the demise of the year at Good Riddance Day, an annual event where you’re encouraged to say adieu to your former roommate, the highly embarrassing love letters you sent your ex, and all remnants of 2017’s garbage fire.
Cost: All memories of 2017
Friday
Dec 29
Williamsburg
Join the ranks of Williamsburg’s finest dancers at the ever-popular and eccentrically decorated Baby’s All Right, for an evening of indie pop. In breaks from the dance floor, rehydrate (kinda) with the Green Baby cocktail -- the house homage to Brooklyn’s persistent matcha trend, made with frozen cachaça, pineapple, peach, and that superpowered green tea.
Cost: $10 cover charge
Sunday
Dec 31
Central Park
There’s no better way to part with 2017 than running as fast as you can in the other direction. Ring in the new year with a midnight run around a 4-mile course in Central Park and sprint directly into 2018. Fireworks await you at the end -- proof that you made it out of 2017 alive.  
Cost: Entry fees start at $30
Sunday
Dec 31

Skip Times Square, and watch the NYE fireworks in Prospect Park

Skip Times Square, and watch the NYE fireworks in Prospect Park

Park Slope
There are two places you definitely don’t want to be on New Year’s Eve in NYC: Times Square, and any kind of club. Watching the ball drop is anti-climactic, and most clubs charge exorbitant entry fees (presumably to make you feel like you can’t leave, even when several hundred rowdy out-of-towners have stepped on your toes and poured champagne in your hair). Instead, gather your friends, bundle up, and grab a spot on the Prospect Park lawn. Your view of the fireworks will be completely unobstructed, and your feet, hair, and wallet will thank you.
Cost: Free
Sunday
Dec 31
Upper East Side/Lower East Side
Meet up with fellow bikers in Central Park, just opposite the Plaza hotel at 9:30pm, and ride through all of the city’s mesmerizing New Year's Eve commotion. Once you and the gang make it Downtown, you’ll head straight to the Future Positive New Year's celebration in the Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space. There will be free valet parking, a live DJ, and a series of NYC-centric films by local artists projected on the walls.
Cost: Tickets are $30
Coney Island Polar Plunge
Coney Island Polar Plunge | a katz/Shutterstock.com
Monday
Jan 1
Coney Island
Starts don’t come much fresher than a chilling dip in the Atlantic Ocean to kick off the New Year. Join Coney Island’s Polar Bear Club by the West Eighth Street boardwalk for their annual New Year’s Day Plunge to help raise money for local organizations, including the New York Aquarium. Just think, those heart palpitations will be so worth it for the warm, fuzzy feeling you’ll get from doing a good deed. Although that might just be hypothermia setting in.
Cost: $25 suggested donation
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